Don’t Take No for an Answer

Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. – Margaret Mitchell

If you know anything about Southwest Michigan First, you probably know that our team members don’t like to take no for an answer. Don’t worry, this isn’t the vacuum cleaner salesman model from the past that you might be thinking. In fact, I love this about our team.

When I was a kid they use to sell vacuum cleaners, Bibles, insurance and Fuller brushes door-to-door to stay-at-home moms. These salesmen were taught to never take “no” for an answer. They were trained to be aggressive and get your foot in the door – whatever it took to make a sale. The reality is that nobody wants that. Nobody in today’s world is going to buy from that sales strategy.

At Southwest Michigan First it’s different. We don’t take no for an answer because when we hear “no” we believe it is usually our fault for not asking the question correctly.  Instead of saying here is my need or here is the problem that I have and can you participate in the solution, we often pre-design what we think the solution should be. Usually when someone tells you no, they aren’t saying they won’t help you at all, they are saying they simply can’t accommodate that exact solution you’ve proposed.

In the course of my career, I’ve found that most people want to participate in other peoples’ success. It’s like the old Zig Ziglar phrase: You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want. Our goal should be to burden people with knowledge of what the problem is that we are trying to solve or where we are trying to go and then ask them to participate in that success. This helps us speak the same language and ultimately find a solution.


I received an email from a friend the other night who has it in her heart to write a book and give away 10,000 copies filled with advice for young women. Because she is so passionate about what she’s driven to do, she has been successful with crowdsourcing the funding for this project. She has been reaching out asking for people to partner with her to make it come true and she has a whole lot of people saying yes to the idea. Will that work in every case? No, but she is asking the right people in the right way to participate with her, and they want to help. They want to feel her success as well.

In the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, there is a line that says: Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end. It’s a phrase that I’m sure you’ve heard before, but I love the idea of it. Bottom line, when you’re doing good, things usually work out the way they are supposed to. We don’t take no for an answer because we believe our mission is important enough to always find the way to yes.

Always Forward.

Question: What do you do when you hear “no” for an answer?

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